Original Research

Can involuntarily admitted patients give informed consent to participation in research?

C W van Staden
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 13, No 1 | a5 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v13i1.5 | © 2007 C W van Staden | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 October 2007 | Published: 01 February 2007

About the author(s)

C W van Staden, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pretoria

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The article argues that a functional approach is ethically better than a categorical approach in deciding whether involuntarily admitted patients have the capacity to give informed consent to participation in research. Congruent with current South African laws, a functional approach requires that a patient’s capacity to give informed consent to participation in research should be assessed clinically rather than assumed by virtue of his/her belonging to a category of legal admission status. Concerns about protection against exploitation may cause a categorical approach to appear attractive, but these concerns can be addressed deliberately through a functional approach without attracting the infringements of rights and entitlements of patients that are brought about by a categorical approach.


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